The Steelers will soon have a decision to make. Ike Taylor has been their top cornerback for six seasons and is about to hit the open market.
Taylor has been solid for the Steelers over the years, not spectacular. He will be looking to be paid among the top corners in the league and should draw some interest from other clubs.
Should the Steelers throw top dollar at the 31-year-old corner with the stone hands? The answer is simple. No.
Every team in the NFL makes a decision on the type of team and the style of offense and defense they desire to play. They then build the team accordingly around the talent they have.
Defensively, the Steelers have chosen to focus their efforts on building the front seven into a powerhouse. That plan has worked to perfection.
The Steelers philosophy is to stop the run and force opposing teams into obvious passing situations. Then, turn the front seven loose to harass the quarterback, cause hurried throws, create sacks and the occasional forced fumble.
Over the past ten seasons, the Steelers have consistently been at or near the top in rush yards allowed and sacks.
Critics will point to the past Super Bowl and say the Packers exposed the Steelers' cornerbacks as the weak spot to attack. Seriously? The Steelers' secondary hasn't been the strength of the team since the days of Rod Woodson.
Would the Steelers like to have two shutdown corners patrolling the secondary? Absolutely, who wouldn't? Do they need it to be successful? Absolutely not.
The Steelers have a proven plan on defense that has produced three Super Bowl appearances in the last six seasons, winning two and coming within a few plays of a third title.
In Super Bowl XL, Ike Taylor was targeted all game long and gave up a lot of receptions and yards. But, the Seahawks could manage only 10 points and struggled mightily with the Steelers pressure on third downs to the tune of a 29% conversion rate. There's your game right there.
When the Steelers met the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, Kurt Warner and his impressive group of receivers were red hot and continued their success against the Steelers. Warner threw for nearly 500 yards, yet the Steelers gave up only 23 points and the front seven provided two huge big plays to secure the win.
James Harrison's 100-yard interception return for a touchdown was one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history and changed the entire complexion of the game. LaMarr Woodley sealed the win with a sack and forced fumble in the closing seconds. Once again, the Steelers' emphasis on the front seven was the difference.
Could the corners have played better against the Packers in last season's Super Bowl loss? Definitely, but to put the entire loss on their shoulders would be wrong.
It wasn't the secondary's fault the offense decided to turn the ball over an uncharacteristic three times. The defense played well enough in the third quarter to enable the Steelers to get back in the game and then when they needed to hold the Packers out of the end zone in the closing minutes they came up with the stop to give Roethlisberger a chance to win it at the end.
Sure, a three and out and five minutes for Big Ben to work with would have been better but the Steelers' offense was certainly capable of a two minute drive to win the title.
The bottom line is, the Steelers should not deviate from a plan that has recently produced two Lombardi trophies and nearly a third. If they can sign Taylor for a reasonable price, they should bring him back. If the price is too high, it may be time to take a look at some of the young talent already on the roster.
Either way, the Steelers' plan works. They just need to stick to it.